Thursday, August 14, 2008

VooDoo Economics

I can’t believe just how good a full day of low humidity, pleasant temperatures, and a little breeze can make one feel. That’s the way it was yesterday. I think I had more ambition yesterday than I’ve had on just about every other day for the last month or more.

When I posted yesterday, I indicated I had a couple of errands to complete. I did my errands, but I wouldn’t say they were very successful. I wanted to see about changing my cell phones as I’ve passed the two year mark on my “new every two” plan. Actually, I passed it about three years ago but found out I could still swap the phones. After checking at the phone store and then coming home and going one line for more checking, the process became rather complicated. I still have my old phone.

I needed to make a hardware purchase. It was nothing serious, just a box of wiring staples to affix a wire to my deck. I couldn’t find the ones that fit my ancient staple gun. That project is now on hold, but, as happens quite frequently, my Fearless Friends is coming to the rescue. He’ll be in the neighborhood tomorrow and will bring his device for me to use. I could have bought a new gun that takes modern staples, but I only need to drive about 4. I had completed most of the project before I used my last staple over the weekend.

The best part of it all was neither setback set me back. Because of the great weather, I remained more or less upbeat. I am an old curmudgeon so “upbeat” has many differing definitions.

As you know, I read a mainly political forum daily. One of the discussions on that site is about the change in the calculations of our tax burden in this state. It was also a topic of discussion this morning on a morning radio/TV talk show.

I haven’t studied economics except for one class my freshman year in college, and that was more than a couple of years ago. So I don’t pretend to understand all the ins and outs of economic calculations. What I do know is what I mentioned several days ago. Before the Tax Foundation changed the way it calculated tax standings, Maine ranked #1 or #2 with about 14% of our income going to state and local taxes.

Just out of curiosity I calculated my tax to income percentage and came out with about 14%. And I only used for taxes those taxes and fees that came to mind. I probably left out a whole lot of others, especially fees. I consider any payment to the government that goes into the general fund for general use is a tax and calling it a fee is only an attempt to fool the public. One example of a fee/tax is the fee you pay to register your car.

That 14% was right in line with what the Tax Foundation said we were paying. Then it changed the way it did its calculation and dropped us all the way down to around 10%. It took out, among other things, property taxes people in other states who own property in Maine and live here part time from the state’s burden.

Now bear in mind, I don’t understand this economics business, only what is common sense to me. Common sense tells me that if what I pay to the state is part of the state’s overall income, if that income is lowered by an accounting trick, and my taxes aren’t lowered, then I’m actually paying a higher percentage, not a lower one. In any case my simple, logical reasoning shows my real burden has remained at 14%.

I think until I do some more studying on this situation, I can only consider the whole thing as voodoo economics.

And now, a question: Who is Bob Barr?


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